By TOM LEA
MADISON – Speaking to a handful of reporters Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema officially declared a starter in the seemingly endless right guard positional battle.
Zac Matthias, a junior, has beaten out sophomore Kyle Costigan, freshman Dan Voltz and senior Rob Burge… for now.
“Matthias will probably start, but expect both of them to play,” Bielema, including Costigan in the discussion, said. “Burge will probably roll in there as well just to kind of see how he feels and handles the game situation. Those other four will play together.”
The other four, of course, were the remaining offensive linemen slated on the starting line for the 2012 Badgers. Ricky Wagner, an Outland trophy finalist, will start at left tackle. Ryan Groy will work at left guard, Travis Frederick mans the center position and sophomore Rob Havenstein starts at right tackle.
If things don’t work out that well at right guard against Northern Iowa, or any other Saturday for that matter, Bielema did say there’s a chance he could slide Ryan Groy over to play right guard.
“Depending on where they’re going (at right guard),” Bielema said. “We could move Groy over to right guard and play certain guys at left guard as well.”
No news is good news in regard to Saturday’s season opener inside Camp Randall Stadium. For the most part, all the slated starters on Bielema’s week one depth chart are healthy and ready to contribute.
“Everybody is back with us,” Bielema said. “Except for Chase Hammond. He’s probably another week out. Vince Biegel will be another week out, but other than that the 70 guys we expected to play (will).”
Hammond, a wide receiver listed on the two-deep, endured some sort of foot irritation that forced the coaching staff to sit him down for approximately 10 days.
“It wasn’t a fracture or anything like that,” Bielema said. “It was just something we felt that we needed to shut him down. We expect to get him back, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.”
Biegel is also expected back relatively soon. According to Bielema, the highly touted true freshman linebacker is no longer wearing a walking boot to help his ailing foot. Bielema is encouraged by the progress Biegel has made.
“I saw him today during flex,” Bielema said. “He’s just bouncing. He’s anxious and ready to get out there.”
Sophomore tight end Sam Arneson is also close to making his return to the field after undergoing a minor knee procedure to take care of an issue that was plaguing him throughout the early portion of camp.
“Arneson looks really good,” Bielema said. “He missed four or five days of practice. It just brings those legs back.
“You can tell he has a little extra pop.”
KICKER COMPETITION SOLVED?
There was plenty of talk surrounding the kicking battle between sophomore Kyle French and freshman Jack Russell. Bielema, Thursday night, said French will handle both field goals and kickoffs.
“There is a scenario where we could get Jack in there as a starter,” Bielema said. “But we’ll wait and see how that plays out.”
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